November 10th, 2016


Life is very full and rich: full of music and rich with friends. This week I’m celebrating both with the release of my first duo album on Avie Records with the incredibly talented violinist Augustin Hadelich. My good friend is with me now to help tell the story of how we came to play together and make this album of music by Franck, Kurtág, Schumann and André Previn.

Augustin: Joyce and I first met in the hallways and dormitories of The Juilliard School but never spent much time together. I knew she was a hotshot pianist and already concertizing full-time. For a few years we randomly ran into each other at airports and parties until summer 2010.

Joyce: That’s when we played together for the first time. It was at La Jolla SummerFest, where we were assigned Schumann's A minor trio. First collaborations can go very well, or terribly! Ours was, thankfully, of the prior type, so we decided to sight read some music − the Franck Violin Sonata − and plan a recital a couple of years down the line.

Augustin: Our first concert together happened sooner than we’d planned. In early 2011, I was scrambling to find a replacement for a pianist who had an injury.

Joyce: I got a frantic voicemail from Augustin. "My pianist canceled! Will you play a few recitals with me starting THIS SATURDAY in LA? Are you free? Where are you?" I answered, "I’m at Disneyland, waiting to go on a roller coaster." And that’s how a real roller coaster of a week began!

Augustin: Luckily, my concerts were on the West Coast and she agreed to save the day. Among the works I had programmed were “Tre Pezzi” by Kurtág, and the Franck Sonata.

Joyce: Augustin flew out to LA the next day. Since we couldn't possibly rehearse enough to feel "ready" in three days, our performance relied deeply on the true essence of chamber music: really listening to each other and responding to each other as music unfolded.

Augustin: Several things struck me about those first performances. The intensity of Joyce’s playing was contagious and ideally suited to romantic, passionate works such as the Franck Sonata. Being on stage with her was electrifying. What an experience to play the Franck, with its unusually difficult and virtuosic piano part, with a pianist who is so completely unfazed by its technical challenges!

Joyce: Afterwards it was like a storm had passed. And we were both alive (and well received). There is something to be said about walking out on stage together as a team and learning to trust each other when you have only really just met (musically speaking). It brings you closer and creates a special bond. We couldn't wait to play together again – and to know we would have plenty of rehearsal time to prepare for our next performances!

Augustin: In the years since, we have played many concert tours together, exploring a varied and interesting repertoire. I also really enjoy Joyce’s bubbly personality, both on and off stage. When talking to an audience, we have developed what Joyce calls our “informative cop/funny cop” routine (she’s the funny cop), and she never fails to break the ice.

Joyce: I often get emotional during our concerts listening to Augustin. His playing is so beautiful, refined, and heartfelt, and I have to remind myself to focus and keep playing! He phrases lines like curves of a sublime sculpture. The tone he gets from his instrument is so fine… like pulling silk through the eye of a needle. He is always concerned about what the composer really intended, and makes sure we don't take too much artistic freedom just because we feel like it. With Augustin next to me, I know I am in good hands.

Here’s a short video of us playing Janáček at Bravo Vail right after we recorded our CD:

Find our new album at Amazon and iTunes – or get an autographed copy at one of our post-concert CD signings. We hope you enjoy it!